Adelaide-based trainer Paul Beshara has stated that he and Saturday’s 2014 Spring Stakes favourite Happy Trails have bigger fish to fry than their Morphettville rivals this weekend.
Good Journey gelding Happy Trails kicks off their seven-year-old campaign in the $115,000 Group 3 David R Coles AM Spring Stakes (1200m) at their home track where they’ve run top two in five of their seven starts.
Last year they also ran first-up in the weight-for-age feature on way to a stellar Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
They jumped the $2.80 favourite that day, and are close to that price paying $2.60 through Ladbrokes.com.au for this year’s edition, but could only manage to finish a luckless fifth behind the winner Just Discreet.
In the 2013 Spring Stakes Happy Trails jumped from barrier six with Jason Holder aboard and were disappointed for a run getting caught between runners until it was too late.
Beshara then expressed his liking for their outside barrier nine draw this year, Troy Baker to ride.
“I think they’ve done us a favour,” he told The Advertiser speaking of the Spring Stakes draw.
“If you have a look at last year’s episode … put it this way, it wasn’t (Jason) Holder’s best ride.
“You’re driving a Ferrari, you don’t need to ride him like he’s a 100-1 shot.
“You can’t get in any trouble out there.”
Baker has the mount on Happy Trails while the galloper’s regular jockey Dwayne Dunn rides at Flemington’s Aurie’s Star Handicap Day on Saturday.
Baker will be instructed to take his time on the favourite from that gate with Beshara unconcerned about the wide position.
“He’ll drop back, let him come around the outside and give him plenty of room. He’ll be hitting the line,” Beshara said.
Confident his horse can win, the trainer is also unfazed if they run a nice race but fail to cross the line first saying they had bigger and better targets this time in.
“He’s not there to prove anything, whatever he does is a bonus,” Beshara said.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry, but of course I’d like to see him win.”
While the lack of pace could be a problem, Beshara’s confidence is aided by the WFA conditions with Happy Trails carrying 58.5kg and meeting his rivals, aside from the two mares on 56.5kg, equal in the weights.
“There’s just 2kg difference from the bottom to him. He’s a multiple Group 1 winner and ran second in the Cox Plate,” he said.
“If this was a handicap he’d be carrying 70kg in that field.”
Winner of the 2012 Emirates Stakes on the back of a WS Cox Plate 10th two years ago, last spring Happy Trails added to their Group 1 tally with a narrow victory over one time Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune in the Turnbull Stakes.
They then backed up in Cox Plate again this time going down by the barest of margins to the Chad Schofield-ridded Shamus Award who became the first maiden winner of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
Beshara has penciled in the $3 million Moonee Valley feature on October 25 as Happy Trails’ main aim again this spring.
The galloper, who according to Beshara is only around 80% fit, returns after recovering from a ligament injury in the Cox Plate last year that saw them miss the Mackinnon Stakes during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Other notable Spring Stakes hopes on Saturday meanwhile include the Ken Sweeney‘s Goodwood placegetter Riziz ($2.70), rails-drawn Karacatis ($5) and Daytona Grey ($8).
Get behind Happy Trails for Saturday and in the futures Cox Plate betting markets online at Ladbrokes.com.au where your first deposit will be matched 100% up to $250 as a bonus welcome bet that can be split up to four ways.